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Friday, March 10, 2006 

Formula 1: Changing Rules, Changing Fortunes?

The New Formula 1 season begins today at Bahrain with the qualifying session. Last season had its share of controversies, with the Indianapolis fiasco being the major one. With only teams on Bridgestone tyres racing, Ecclestone’s vision of making F1 the #1 motorsport in Nascar country were dealt with a major blow. The last season also saw some new rules, which saw the end of Ferrari domination of the sport. This year too many changes will be seen, some in the teams, others in the rules of the game.

There are two major changes in rules this year, one of them being the reintroduction of tyre changes. This will be beneficial to all, as the changes in weather can be set off by changing tyres according to changing weather conditions, thus making the race fair. (The next season will see a single tyre maker rule, so that another Indianapolis can be avoided.)

The second change is that V10 engines have been replaced by less powerful V8 ones. This will bring down top speeds. Drivers will also find lesser power and torque to get them out of tight spots, so the emphasis will shift from speed to control.

The qualifying sessions will see a completely different format, that of a Knockout. In 2006 season qualifying will involve 3 sessions.

Session 1, 15 minutes: 5 slowest drivers will be eliminated
Session 2, 15 minutes: next 5 slowest drivers will be eliminated
Session 3, 20 minutes: 10 drivers will compete for the grid

(Don’t know how it will work, so be ready to tune in to watch the qualifying, live in some time.)

On the grid, one will find old faces in new colours. Ruebens Barrichello will be seen outside his traditional Ferrari reds donning the Honda outfit. Fillipe Massa will replace him in the Ferrari team. Our local lad Narain Karthikeyan will be missing from the grid. McLaren cars will be sporting a new look, out of their traditional black to a new pink-blue combination. A new team, Aguri Suzuki will be lining up as well.

Another bad season this year my see Schumi hang up his boots, while a championship might delay it for quiet some time. Will Barrichello be able to assert himself in his new team? Will Massa be given a free hand, or need to play second fiddle? What impact will the new rules have? Will change in colours change the fortunes of McLaren? Will Button win a Grand Prix? Answer coming up these season, do watch out!